Today in sports: The New York Times profiles the giant-headed New York Mets icon, European soccer clubs prepare to overpay for transfer players, and a sneaky contract provision in Albert Pujols' new contract.
New York Times sports columnist Richard Sandomir has written a very silly history of the jaunty New York Mets mascot Mr. Met, who he memorably and accurately identifies "baseball's red-stitched Übermensch born without a first name." He did so without much help from the team's publicity department, which declined to answer any of Sandomir's questions about the character's history, or provide him "the precise size of his head." They referred Sandomir to "a spokesman for Mr. Met" who was similarly unhelpful, telling Sandomir: "Mr. Met never speaks." [The New York Times]
Former Chicago Bears receiver Sam Hurd was indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas on federal drug conspiracy and possession charges. Hurd was released by the Bears last month after allegedly telling an undercover cop he was interested in buying "five to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana per week" for his fledgling Chicago drug ring.[Chicago Tribune]
The mammoth 10-year, $240 million contract that Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels last month will include "personal services agreement" that kicks in once the contract is up, and will pay him a yearly salary of $1 million over the next ten years, as long as he's still "working for the team." That's a nifty way of getting around baseball's luxury tax penalties, since the money technically isn't guaranteed. The deal also has a "marketing agreement for milestone achievements," under which Pujols will receive a $7 bonus for breaking baseball's home run agreement, and $3 million bonus if (when) he reaches 3,000 hits. [The Biz of Baseball]
The January transfer window for European soccer clubs to hand out lots and lots of money for a player who will upgrade their roster has been around for ten years. When the system put into place, FIFA officials thought it would stop big money clubs from vacuuming up big names, but instead, its fostered a month-long arms race. That happens in every sport to some extent as a deadline to acquire players nears, but the amount of money available to Europeans teams has created a situation where teams like Chelsea think nothing of writing a check for $80 million, which is what they paid for striker Fernando Tores last January. [The Wall Street Journal]